Authorities in central Russia were battling a fire raging through an arms depot storing around 10,000 tons of shells that has forced the evacuation of some 30,000 people, some of whose homes were bombarded by artillery shells.
Emergencies Ministry spokesman Mikhail Surkov initially said that as a result of the nighttime blaze at the arms depot near the city of Izhevsk in the Volga region of Udmurtia, three people received burns and were hospitalized.
Two elderly residents of a nearby town reportedly died of heart attacks in connection with the incident and a military officer was still missing.
Later reports said the incident, in Russia’s central Udmurtia region, left around 50 people injured from flying glass, shrapnel, or exposure to toxic fumes, according to RFE/RL’s Russian and Tatar-Bashkir services.
Explosions at military weapons depots are relatively common in Russia and are often linked to aging equipment and lax enforcement of safety rules.
Late last month, a similar fire at a munitions depot in the region of Bashkortostan triggered explosions and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.
compiled from agency reports